Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I believe giving thanks is a social, and personal good. This Alternet article explains why.
“When Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, first advocated for Thanksgiving as a national holiday in 1846, she argued that it would unify the country. In our research, [we] have been able to show that Hale’s vision for the holiday has been largely fulfilled. Inclusivity of people and traditions has been Thanksgiving’s hallmark quality.
“A reason for its broad appeal is that it lacks any association with an institutionalized religion. As one interviewee told us, ‘There is no other purpose than to sit down with your family and be thankful.’
“And after interviewing a range of people – from those born in the U.S. to immigrants from countries like South Africa, Australia, and China – it became obvious that the principles and rituals they embraced during the holiday were universal no matter the culture: family, food and gratitude.”
As the title of the story reads, “How everything about Thanksgiving as we know it was shaped by the marketing industry.” Somehow, the fact that we’ve been steered to eating turkey, cranberry, and pie doesn’t bug me as I suppose it should.
Romancing the holiday
Still, I recognize that there’s an American myth around the holiday. It’s the stuff I learned growing up about the Pilgrims and the American Indians, which makes a lot of folks uncomfortable. The article by Corinne Oestreich in Huffington Post, As A Native American, Here’s What I Want My Fellow Americans To Know About Thanksgiving, speaks to this:
“If I could ask one thing from my non-indigenous fellow Americans when it comes to Thanksgiving, I would ask that you refrain from teaching the romanticized version of the holiday. Read to your children about what it means to be thankful, what it means to heal and be a family. Learn as a family about the tribal nation that is local to where you live.”
In this polarized political environment, sometimes learning “what it means to heal and be a family” seems to be an insurmountable task. Yet, if it is possible – and sometimes it’s not – we try.
“Take time during dinner to recognize whose traditional lands you give thanks on. Take this holiday into your own hands and understand that not every Native will have good feelings about this day, and be accepting of that. We can all choose how we feel about this holiday, but it is always our own choice.”
I suppose this is a bit of a Debbie Downer ending to a holiday post. So it goes.
She tells about her dream for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Back in the 1970s, “our toaster oven had an on-off switch and that was it. At some point, someone had the bright idea of adding a timer and automatic shut-off. This simple change made it a whole lot harder for distracted mothers” – like her – “or anyone else, to leave it running until it set the kitchen on fire.
“Thirty years later, while working on an article about how the government could protect consumers from predatory financial companies, I thought about those old toaster ovens. By then, it was all but impossible to buy a toaster that had a one-in-five chance of bursting into flames and burning down your house. A government agency monitored toasters for basic safety, just like government kept lead paint out of children’s toys and rat poison out of medicine.”
“Growing up, I knew I wanted to be a teacher… But that meant I’d need a college diploma. Our family didn’t have the money to pay for it.. But I got my second chance at a public commuter college that cost $50 a semester and opened a million doors for me.
“I got my degree and I got to live my dream: I became a teacher for students with special needs. My story was only possible because America invested in kids. That just isn’t true today.
“Betsy DeVos is the worst Secretary of Education we’ve seen. She and her team are up to their eyeballs in conflicts of interest. Instead of championing our students, they protect for-profit colleges that break the law and cheat them.”
And she has a plan to pay for things. An Ultra-Millionaire Tax in place for the 75,000 largest fortunes in the country would cover Universal Child Care and early education, do universal free public college, and cancel student loan debt for 42 million Americans. Even the 1% know they aren’t paying their fair share: a new poll shows 60% of millionaires support her idea.
It seems she has two major impediments in her campaign. One is that she’s a woman of a certain age. Jill Filipovic wrote in the New York Times about age and the female politician: “They are seen as too young and inexperienced right up until they are branded too old and tedious. Elizabeth Warren… finds herself put in the same ‘old’ category as [Bernie] Sanders and Joe Biden, even though both men are nearly a decade older than she is. Men who are more or less the same age as Ms. Warren — John Hickenlooper (67), Jay Inslee (68) — are not lumped in with the white-hairs.”
Hillary Clinton’s 2016 communications director talked to Vanity Fair about Warren, Harris and the Likability Quotient. She sees the trouble with “tough” women in politics, is that “The media unintentionally perpetuates male candidates’ advantages because they look and sound like candidates who have won in the past. And—shocker—they’re usually men.”
Rebecca Solnit writes Unconscious Bias is Running for President: On Elizabeth Warren and the False Problem of ‘Likeability’. She sees stories like this one – I Can’t Believe Elizabeth Warren Is Losing to These Guys – as articles that tie her to failure before the race has truly started.
The other topic of “controversy” is described by former Treasury Secretary Robert Reich: “Elizabeth Warren is one of the most talented politicians and policy leaders in America. We must not allow Trump or anyone else to ‘swift-boat’ her because she identified herself as an American Indian three decades ago.
“At worst, Warren may have stretched the bounds of the definition of whiteness. That’s understandable. She grew up in Oklahoma, a state created from Indian Territory. She probably witnessed the disrespect and occasional brutality that Native Americans were, and still are, subject to. Her own genetic test showed at least one Native American ancestor. She has stressed that she is not a member of a tribal nation.”
“Warren got no career benefit from her self-designation. At every step of her exceptional rise in the legal profession, those responsible for hiring her saw her as a white woman. The fact that she claimed Indian descent on a Texas bar form that was meant to be confidential is further evidence that her identification arose from sincere belief.”